WEST RUPERT — What do you do in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, when there is an unknown virus causing severe illness and death, people are avoiding all public activities and the economy is facing grave uncertainty?
If you’re Carol Connors of West Rupert, you open a general store.
Sherman’s Store reopened its doors Oct. 24 in the hamlet of West Rupert.
As they approached opening day, Facebook posts were less about the store and more about the community.
During deer season, the list of trophy deer and photos adorned the wall for all patrons to see. Walk in the door for the Sunday morning breakfast and you will hear Carol greet every single customer who walks through the door by name.
She is open at 6 a.m. every day, but if you show up at 5:30 it’s OK. The coffee will be ready.
One young man takes her up on her early coffee almost every day of the week.
It is obvious everyone feels welcome here.
Her 4-year-old grandson, Gage, is often found learning how to operate the register and counting back change for the customers, and even earning an occasional tip.
He says the best part of his grandma running the store is, “all the yummy food I get to eat.” The store offers subs and sandwiches for lunch, Friday night pizza, chili and soups and a variety of Sunday morning breakfast items including eggs, omelets, french toast, the fluffiest pancakes and of course bacon and real Vermont maple syrup.
You can pick up grocery items, a bottle of wine, and well known regional items like Battenkill Creamery milk and ice cream, Rupert Rising bread, local honey and maple syrup from trees you can practically see from the store window, and the sap is boiled right down the road.
Sherman’s Store has always been called just that, and there was no reason to change it.
The first proprietor of the store was Myron H. Sherman who opened in the same building in the mid-1850s.
Like most general stores, it offered whatever the locals needed and still does. The local historian, Gene Higgins said the upstairs of this grand building had an auditorium for special shows, and he recalls attending his first movie there in the 1940s.
The post office was originally right inside the store and is now next door.
The store has changed hands several times over the years, and some of the previous owners have come back, like Kelly and Dan Raymond, and Connors is glad to have them.
“They just know what to do, and they know what people want and like,” Connors said.
As business picks up, Carol has plans to provide a larger variety of prepared foods and continue to expand on the items offered for sale.
But the building will need more important updates too. They had to purchase new shelving, repaint and replace most of the kitchen.
They knew who had purchased the pizza ovens and were able to buy them back.
“Buying and opening the store was nearly a three-year process, and the restrictions due to covid made everything take longer,” Connors said. “It took a lot of patience.”
Connors has been a resident of West Rupert since 1984 when she moved from East Dorset.
After working within the community for many years and then working in a large retail setting she really missed the “small-town feel.”
Connors said she knew the town would appreciate having the store open again, but she never realized just how much.
“The appreciation has been exponentially larger than I ever thought,” Connors said.
The old-time small-town Vermont general store is nearly a thing of the past. But in some places in Vermont, they’re coming back.
Sherman’s Store is located at 1137 Route 153 in West Rupert. The store is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day but Friday when hours are extended to 7 p.m.
Call ahead with your food orders at 802-394-7820 and find them on Facebook for menus, specials and announcements.